Northern Ireland news

Covid-19 vaccine bookings open for 35-39 age group

Covid-19 vaccine appointments were made available for a limited number of people aged between 35 and 39-years-old

COVID-19 vaccine appointments were yesterday made available for a limited number of people aged between 35 and 39-years-old.

The Department of Health said it is the latest phase of the vaccine roll-out with the "limited availability" for that age cohort ahead of the programme being fully opened to them at the end of the month.

People were able to book from 2pm yesterday, with appointments mainly available at the mass vaccine centre at the SSE Arena in Belfast.

Appointments in community pharmacies are due to be opened up to 35-39 year-olds later in April as vaccine supplies permit.

It comes as figures last night revealed there were no further deaths of patients across the island of Ireland.

In Northern Ireland, the death toll from the virus remains at 2,135 with another 79 people testing positive for the virus in the last 24 hours.

There were 69 confirmed Covid-19 inpatients in hospital, eight of whom were in ICU.

Other statistics reveal 1,137,331 vaccines have been administered in the north - 863,712 of which were first doses and 273,619 were second doses.

In the Republic, there were 403 new cases of the virus yesterday, with 183 Covid-positive patients in hospital, including 50 in intensive care.

The figures come as the Department of Health announced the "early opportunity" for those aged between 35 and 39 to book a Covid-19 vaccine yesterday.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: "I have always been clear that we would move through the vaccine programme as quickly as vaccine deliveries and capacity allows....

"I recently announced that we successfully administered over one million vaccines across Northern Ireland to the highest priority groups.

"This figure is expected to rise exponentially as the trust vaccine centres and GP practices continue to deliver second doses while the vaccine centre at the SSE Arena and the community pharmacists push ahead to deliver first doses.

"Opening up to 35-39-year-olds earlier than expected is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all staff who are delivering the vaccination programme in Northern Ireland."

Mr Swann also urged those aged between 40 and 45, who were recently added to the eligibility list, to book their vaccine appointment.

"Getting the vaccine not only protects you but also those close to you," he said.

"I would also strongly encourage anyone aged 40 years or over who hasn't booked themselves a vaccination appointment yet to do so as soon as possible."

Speaking in the Assembly yesterday, First Minister Arlene Foster hailed the latest development in the vaccine programme.

"Those people who are in that age group can now avail of the Covid vaccine and I would very much encourage them to make sure that they take that up," she said.

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